Tom was talking to his younger, married brother Bob about taking time to do some repairs around their mother’s house. “I can’t be here to do all the repairs that are needed. I have to fly out tomorrow for a meeting in Chicago and I’ll be gone for ten days. It seems like one thing after another has broken or stopped working since Dad passed away. You are just going to have to do them because I can’t.”
“Sorry Tom, with the kids’ school schedules and Lisa’s overtime required at the office, I cannot get away either. We need to find a solution to make the repairs and somehow arrange for Mom not to be alone so much. It isn’t healthy. She misses Dad terribly. Neighbors can only help so much.”
While Tom was away and found free time between work obligations, he began to surf the ‘net. To his complete surprise, he found an abundance of retirement living communities, within easy access to his condo and his brother’s house. Each one sounded like a vacation resort for active, daily living. He easily pictured his mother enjoying life again, finding new friends within the community, participating in activities, and near enough so he could drop in any time. Plus, she could spend time with Bob, Lisa, and the grandkids now and then, when their busy schedules allowed, of course. Mom could have her own apartment for peace and quiet when she wanted it Two of the communities near them had assisted living units close at hand, in case they became necessary. Wow! He had no idea this style of living existed for older adults. Selling Mom’s house would take care of the expense. After all, Dad used to say that their house was an investment, so he always took good care of it. I wonder if he was thinking how much this investment would benefit Mom now.
Times have changed and senior retirement has been one of the biggest changes. No longer did retirement homes have the negative image they suffered so long ago. With communities stating their offerings, showing photos of grounds and buildings, and inviting the public to come for lunch to see for themselves how wonderful living was available for seniors in this modern age. Stopping in for lunch and a tour will give prospects a taste of the food offered and the dining service given.
Kind Dining♥ training, now online and on-demand delivers immediate skill building for your employees, bringing more kindness, civility, dignity, and empathy into every interaction. Staff learns to value their service work, strengthen their interpersonal skills to get along better, and focus time and energy on what matters most. Food serving teams from all departments will perform with confidence, hospitality, and appreciation for their healthcare environment serving older adults. The best practices taught were designed from evidence-based research, first-hand experience, and knowledge with your senior living community in mind.
Advice. We are all familiar with advice, whether giving it or receiving it. If you are over 30, you may have already followed some bad advice and suffered its results unhappily. It’s not unusual for a person starting in life after completing their schooling to ask a senior family member for advice to guide them in their life path. With your career based on long-term senior living, what advice would you give to elder friends or family members considering moving into a community? Are they curious about what life is like inside a retirement community? They want to know what isn’t printed in the brochures or advertisements.
Since they are seniors, they probably have an image of how their parents lived the last chapter of their lives. Would you think décor’ and floor plans are more important to them than location? How about rooftop restaurants and swimming pools? Social life? Events & activities?
If they plan to tour a few communities, would you advise them to seek out the food serving team and ask about the foods served. Is it farm-fresh, and are meals created and cooked in the community kitchen? Are the schedules for meals rigid or available throughout the day? Would you tell them about social hours around the dining room tables where the conversation is shared, and newcomers are encouraged to join in? Remember, tell them to note if the food servers wear name tags and know the names of the people they serve at mealtimes. Are they greeted at the door? Tell them to notice the friendliness of employees they’ll meet in the hallways and common areas. Do they carry a pleasant demeanor as they carry trays? Tell them how foods connect people also in special ways on holidays and birthdays.
You can tell these older adults that it is in training, but when the team is well-trained, you won’t notice it because it comes so naturally. It’s in the combination of hospitality and healthcare. The two go hand in hand to form contented residents. Training educates, builds self-confidence, and forms healthy relationships with other employees and residents. Kind Dining♥ training sessions are designed for all employees that present meals, whether full-time, temporary, or part-timers, including nursing and health care, housekeeping departments, care staff, and managers. Our training program is experiential, meaning that we engage trainees by using action, reflection, application, and performance.
B♥ Kind Tip: Do you know what a difference you make by coming to work today?
Do your employees know how important each resident in your senior living community is to your company’s success? A long-time friend who is an avid reader sends items of interest to me about long-term living, which she knows I’ll enjoy. For example, a recent article told how one woman, I’ll call her Carol, happened to visit a retirement community by running an errand. She was delivering historical information pamphlets and was doubly surprised. First, she didn’t realize the woman lived in a retirement community, and secondly, she was pleasantly surprised by how nice retirement living can be! She had no idea!
The community impressed Carol so much that when her out-of-state mother passed away, she invited her step-father to come for a visit to check the community so he could live near family. He did. He came. He was impressed. He happily moved in. Her husband’s parents decided it was time to sell their home after experiencing a bout of medical convalescence. They left the state they lived in to move into this community where they would be near their son and daughter-in-law.
Carol’s brother, also living out-of-state, was growing older but didn’t want to leave his home for so many years. Carol suggested he visit and consider the retirement community a summer home where he could be near family for half the year. He, too, came, toured the community, and began spending his summers near his sister. Carol came next. After her husband passed away, she began living in the community as a second home to cut down on driving the long distance for visits. When the coronavirus hit, Carol and her brother decided the safest place to be was in the community. They both moved in full-time.
Of course, it wasn’t that simple. But once it began with a casual visit, it generated another and another. Word of mouth is a reliable advertisement. It comes from the most important source-the people who live there.
The community seems to have sustained all the important reasons for the family to keep moving in. The staff was well-trained and supported the community. Training employees to give their best performance and to like the work they do is a significant key to success. Kind Dining♥ training turns your employees into the company’s most valuable assets. It’s who residents rely on, so they can invite friends and family to join them. Your employees caring about the residents receiving quality compassionate healthcare and hospitality are goals they can reach with training sessions and practice. Kind Dining♥ training services are now offered on-demand online in 9 eLearning modules, divided into three sections, for 8 hours of instructions.
B♥ Kind Tip: Remember, improvement is an ongoing process!
“Do you ever have a day when everything you touch goes wrong?” Betty said to her husband Joe when she arrived home late from working in a senior living community. “You know I have always loved working in foodservice and enjoy working with the elderly. I’ve known for a long time that I’ll never be a millionaire, but who wants all that responsibility anyway? Besides, I do love my job, my coworkers, the residents, and most everything else. We do have a good food service team that works together until the newbie showed up today.”
Joe laughed at her comment. Wanting to offer sympathy, he said, “What happened? Nothing serious, I hope?”
“Oh, to start the day, our new girl who hasn’t had any training yet seems to be in the way of everyone else who knows what to do and when to do it. She seems to know nothing about food service, working with older people, or even just showing good manners. She totally lacks common sense and complains when one of us tries to help her and shows her how to do something. I don’t know how they are going to tolerate her work, or lack of work, habits. I think she is here for the paycheck, only. We all know that doesn’t go over well. It’s important to care about your work.”
“Why does the company turn her loose on the job with no skills at all?”
“Well, we’re so short-handed and administration seems to think everyone knows how to serve a meal and hold a conversation. People tend to believe that when you are good at what you do, you were born with the knowledge naturally. You know that isn’t so. You’ve heard me say it often enough and you’ve seen me practice a new skill when I needed it.”
“Well, you’re home now. Let’s have a glass of wine to unwind. I’ll even do the pouring and bring it to you.”
Betty has been working in this senior living community for many years and while she does know how to perform, she cheerfully updates her skills when new routines are added to the daily schedule. She realizes the coronavirus has hit her industry hard. Many frontline workers have suffered from working long hours and from burnout. Newly hired employees need to learn the skills, and routines, and build habits to benefit the residents and the food serving teams. Kind Dining♥ training was designed for the unskilled and for refreshing those who have been on the job for some time. The experiential approach is utilized for interaction, reflection, application, and support. Participants learn the challenges of aging and incorporate empathy when engaging residents on a personal level.
B♥ Kind Tip: It’s imperative your food servers feel empathy about seniors’ aging process.
Does a company that hires minimum wage earners to need to invest in the expense of training?
Investing in your assisted living and senior living community servers enhances the interaction between your serving teams and your residents. It is more than improving how a meal is served to an individual. When a server knows their work is conducted correctly, it increases pride in their performance and relationships with coworkers, residents, and management. A better work environment is created. Servers create an improved self-image that extends to a sense of belonging and caring. They are part of a winning team, and their coworkers can also show pride in their connections and working for the common good of others. Research reveals pride in one’s work is more valued than the wage earned.
Learning new and re-polishing skills is part of a good training methodology. The knack for communication with residents and coworkers is key, especially with those with limited English abilities, including the different levels of language used between part-time working teenagers, middle-aged servers, other ethnic heritage, and our older adult residents. Good training practices inspire learners to embrace new knowledge, and application of empathy towards others, It is also important for all servers to use respect and incorporate that knowledge into their casual conversations with residents as they serve meals. Skill development and control over one’s work process stimulate creative thought and improvement in one’s work habits. Satisfaction in one’s performance builds employee commitment. It keeps your servers in your community and not looking for an alternate community for employment.
Workforce challenges call on the servers to rise above the day’s problems and overcome insecurities. Recognizing and discussing the diversity in servers can conquer differences to build a stronger serving team. Empathy works here in a variety of servers and in using empathy with elderly residents. Kind Dining♥ roots are based on teaching authentic hospitality with healthcare, accepting others with dignity and respect, and forming healthy relationships between servers with other employees and between servers and the residents.
Kind Dining is not a program, but a way of life. It’s designed to appeal to the diversity of people serving meals. Concepts in our handbook are easy to understand with an abundance of interactive exercises, relatable pictures, pertinent questions, limited text, and the principles of removing barriers between cultures. It fulfills the culture change, communication and teambuilding called for in your community today.
B♥ Kind Tip: Recognizing diversity in servers on your team can build a stronger one.